Students receive academic boost from $100,000 grant

by Noemi Y. Perez

Hundreds of students in The Immokalee Foundation programs will benefit from a $100,000 grant awarded by the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation.

For years, The Immokalee Foundation’s Immokalee Readers program has been a great success in more ways than might be expected. The grant will support Immokalee Readers and fund operations for the early literacy intervention program, which serves nearly 700 young readers in Immokalee’s five elementary schools.

Enlisted to help those young readers are 100-plus high school students, also enrolled in The Immokalee Foundation programs, who are trained and paid an hourly wage to tutor the young people after school and under the supervision of certified classroom teachers.

Many of the older students who served as tutors have become interested in teaching careers as a result. Others have become interested in child development and nonprofit work. And yet another benefit is the fact that the younger students have role models for success in their older tutors.

Additionally, the grant provides funds for the ACT/SAT prep program under the foundation’s Career Development services. The six-week class – three days a week, three hours a day – for high school students who are enrolled in The Immokalee Foundation programs includes math, science, English and reading components.

Students participating in the ACT preparation course realized an average of 12.5 percent gains in their scores. Students participating in the SAT preparation course realized an average of 7 percent gains in their scores.

Because many Immokalee Foundation students use other languages at home, the additional training they receive through Immokalee Readers in English language usage at a young age is especially important. As an added benefit, the high school tutors also have shown improvements in overall reading proficiency.

The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation is named for the founder and emeritus chairman of the board of Best Buy Inc., who established the nonprofit to aid in the education of young people, among other causes. Schulze is a Minnesota native; his family foundation takes applications and awards grants to groups in both Minnesota and Southwest Florida, where he lives today.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to professional careers through support, mentoring and tutoring, and life skills development leading to economic independence.

To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit

Noemi Y. Perez, executive director of The Immokalee Foundation, can be reached at

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